Day Seven- July 15, 2011

Today was supposed to be my first day to relax a bit after a long week. We were expecting storms overnight and the Minnesota National Guard was great about letting me put the plane into their hangar. The Stearman was nestled up against the olive drab UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters at 07:00AM when we arrived at the field. A two-star General was due in to inspect his facilities and I guess the bright Blue and yellow biplane was too hard to hide. We pulled the plane out of the hangar just in time for rain showers and thunderstorms to hit. Back in the hangar the plane went.

Our seven mile journey to the Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport for the Minnesota Air National Guard event the next day took nine hours! Fortunately the Army guys took pity on us despite our Air Force flight suits and entertained us all day. I think they just about had us recruited with their enthusiasm and good hometown Minnesota attitude.

While waiting to fly out, the news team from KARE 11 stopped by for an interview. It was a fun interview and in my mind one of the most well put together.

By late afternoon we found a small break in the weather. Our short hop to MSP was an adventure. I guess a 95 MPH open cockpit biplane doesn’t match up well with airliners traveling at about 150 MPH on final approach. This was compounded by our radio acting up and the bad weather coming back in. We were cleared to land behind a United Express regional jet and I dove in after him in hot pursuit. Our full power dive from altitude gave us a 135 MPH airspeed and the airliner ahead was just barely pulling away. We touched down slightly hot but controlled in a wheel landing configuration and taxied to the Air National Guard Ramp. The professionals at the MNANG had us in the hangar in no time before the weather hit again.